Week 5: When God seems silent. "Is the moment of most profound silence the moment of God's most profound presence?" Barbara Brown Taylor
Goal of the Week: Discover God’s Promise-- I will ask of you only what you can give
Our Response: Be Still and Know. Deeper Surrender
Quote: "Whereas for a long time, the spirit acted so clearly through my flesh, now I feel nothing. I have lived with the expectation that prayer would become easier as I grow older. But the opposite seems to be happening. The words 'darkness' and 'dryness' seem to best describe my prayer today. What are the darkness and dryness about? What do they call me to? Are they signs of God's absence or are they signs of a presence deeper and wider than my senses can contain? Maybe the time has come to let go of my prayer and my effort to be close to God, my way of being in communion with the divine and to allow the Spirit of God to flow freely in me." Henri Nouwen
Response: "We often misinterpret God's call to wait and be patient as His silence. We need to learn to accept God as He reveals Himself to us. His work is often imperceptible and slow." Mary Ann Froehlich
Quote: "If God withdraws and conceals himself, we ought not to question why He hides, or worse, interpret his hiding as a sign of losing His love. We should beg only that He reveals His hiding place so that we may go there in search of Him. We should have no thought of losing our beloved's love, only of finding Him again. Contemplative Provocations" - Fr. Donald Haggerty.
Response: Jesus promises, "I will ask of you only what you can give". With that in mind, let's renew our trust in His way of accompanying us. In the daily experience of our miseries and faults, it is not so much a question of our making superhuman efforts to completely eliminate our imperfections and our sins, as it is a question of knowing how, to recapture our peace when we have fallen and to avoid sadness and discouragement, which can be mixed in with our own pride because the ideal image that we have of ourselves has been brutally shaken. What is more pleasing to God? Is it when, after experiencing a failure we are discouraged and tormented, or when we react by saying, "Lord, I ask your pardon, I have sinned again, I trust in your Mercy" -
Fr. Jacques Philippe
Quote: "Silence before a God who is now more hidden seems to imply being alone simply with self. Contemplative prayer can seem at first like a conversation that arrives at a sudden awkward silence, without words or thoughts. We are unaccustomed to this absence of speech and at first dislike it. The emptiness can seem without purpose. But all those confusions are simply symptoms. They await an insight. Our own silence is not disagreeable to God, it does not repel Him. He listens to the longing deep within our soul. With God we must learn a new language of love in which words are often unnecessary. Contemplative Provocations" - Fr. Donald Haggerty
Response: "Perhaps the greatest challenge in a time of dryness (and the silence of God) is that we have to trust that love exists deeper than feeling and that the best prayer may be the prayer in which nothing seems to be happening. We have grown accustomed to looking for special experiences or signs to indicate spiritual growth. Now we are called to simply rest in a loving presence without exception." Seeking the Beloved
Imagine God is holding us close and giving us rest from all that is distressing us.
Quote: "A dry desire to love is not at all an absence of love. On the contrary, the dryness is like smoke rising up from a hidden region of fire within the soul. The lack of feeling is only what is consciously experienced. There is a thirst beneath the feelings, a thirst inflamed in the heart of the desert. This aridity slowly carves a wound, a cauterization at a concealed depth of soul which burns away any inclination to seek one's own satisfaction in love. "Contemplative Provocations - Fr. Donald Haggerty
Response: "Though you feel like you are endlessly waiting, you are slowly healing on God's timetable. In the meantime, turn to the Psalms. They have been called the heart of the Bible. They are the most powerful model for communicating with God. Pour out your troubles to God, practice being completely honest with God. God hears all poured out agony, but he longs to be something more than a celestial pacifier. He wants people in their suffering to come to Him. For He Himself is the gift we really need." John White.
Quote: "God draws us into the desert. The desert is the place of silence, of solitude. It is the absence of the exchanges of daily life, its noise and its superficiality. The desert is the place of the absolute, the place of freedom, the place of grace where we encounter God. Great things have their beginning in the desert, in silence, in poverty. It is not possile to share in the mission of Jesus without sharing in the desert experience, its poverty, its hunger, its silence. Let us pray that He will lead us into the desert and that we will find that deep silence in which His word will abide in us." Pope Benedict - Journey to Easter
Response: "Prayer is not a time when we have to entertain God with holy thoughts of worthy sentiments and words. Prayer is nothing other than being present to God so that God can give to us. The only thing that matters is that we believe this and stay there with Him, regardless of how we feel or don't feel." Ruth Burrows - The Essence of Prayer
Quote: "God's language is silence. Silence gives us a new outlook on life. He requires us to be silent to discover Him. Jesus spent 40 days in silence before beginning His public life. We need to be alone with God in silence to be renewed and to be transformed." Thirsting for God.
Response:Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 "Peace will never come until we have accepted in totality all that is involved in our suffering, even facing and accepting the fact that the sorrow that has struck us so suddenly may never be removed. Acceptance is taking from God's hand absolutely anything He chooses to give us, looking up into his face with love and trust." Margaret Clarkson
Quote: "One thing that causes us to lose peace is a lack of certitude, the troubling of conscience that is experienced when it is necessary to make a decision and we are not able to see clearly and we experience God's silence. We are afraid to make a mistake that may have disturbing consequences, we are afraid that it may not be the will of God." Fr. Jacques Philippe
Response: 1) Allow time for mature reflection. 2) Know that sometimes, He simply leaves us free and sometimes, for reasons of His own, He does not manifest himself. 3) When the Lord leaves us
goodwill, the right intentions, but in no way does He demand that we would be infallible and that all of our decisions would be perfect!